With the advent of the internet, most hockey fans have now seen dozens of articles listing the ugliest jerseys of all-time. We are quite familiar with the usual suspects, from the ‘fish stick guy’ Islanders jerseys to the 1970s-era Vancouver Canucks’ ‘giant V’ uniforms. In fact, it seems as if every time a top ten list is constructed, the familiar brown, gold and orange doorstops are automatically awarded the title of ugliest jersey in hockey history…and rightfully so. Those things were hideous.
However, it is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can make this judgement. It was, after all, the late-seventies. The combination of gold, brown, and orange was kind of a thing…and it could be found everywhere from shag carpets to outerwear.
For the poorly-designed uniforms on this list, however, there are no excuses. Their creators simply should have known better. They may not necessarily be the ugliest of all-time, but here are my top five most ridiculous uniform choices in hockey history:
5) Montreal Canadiens Barber Pole Jersey (2009 Edition)
At first glance, this jersey doesn’t look so bad. In fact, I even own one and often wear it while watching the game. Worn with a pair of jeans and a baseball cap, the stripes kind of work.
When they were first designed in 1912, I’d be willing to bet they were even quite stylish; at a live hockey game, seated nice and close, the look has some appeal…but whoever thought it would be a good idea to bring these back in 2009, even as a tribute, needs to give their head a shake.
A single jersey, on its own, is a funky and unique throwback. Nineteen guys warming up in full uniform, matching socks included however, is darn-near seizure inducing. I don’t care how good your television is, watching five players, each wearing no less than 40 one-inch horizontal stripes while moving at top speed… is a downright dizzying experience.
4) Kingston Frontenacs Don Cherry Jersey
These aesthetic abominations were worn on Kingston’s Military Appreciation Night in October of 2009. Not only are they red plaid, they actually feature a necktie and lapel flower.
The only reason these don’t sit higher on the list is because of the amount of good that eventually came from their design. Following the game, each of these jerseys was signed by the team, including head coach Doug Gilmour, as well as Don Cherry himself, before being auctioned off with the proceeds going to charities which support military families.
3) Atlanta Thrashers Third Jersey (2008-2009)
Umm…guys….you forgot the logo.
While I actually kind of like the color scheme on these, the fact that they were essentially long-sleeve football jerseys irritates the traditionalist in me to no end. Although not the ugliest in terms of pure design, hockey has a long standing tradition of placing the team crest on its players’ chests. Football gets away with it by putting helmet space to good use, boldly and proudly displaying each team’s logo…but with no discernible logo to speak of other than shoulder crests, these Thrasher uniforms just look like very, very expensive practice jerseys.
2) LA Kings Third Jersey (1995-96)
The fact that some schmuck managed to dress Wayne Gretzky up like a cross between a purple playing card and a corkscrew that was drawn with a dying marker is downright hilarious. Not often remembered because of its exceptionally short shelf-life, this apparently fast-food inspired faux-pas was one whopper of a failure.
1) Buffalo Sabres (2006-2010)
Again, not necessarily the ugliest…but this one has got to be, by far, the most ill-conceived hockey jersey of all time. My best guess is that the design process had to have gone down something like this:
Sabres management decided to go back to their original blue and gold, which was a great idea. They hired a design firm to create a modern new logo based on the team’s heritage, but the day before the project was due, the designer in charge still hadn’t come up with anything. He must have panicked and begun working his way through a large bottle of liquor before turning on the television and tuning a game between the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers. When he awoke the next morning with a splitting headache, it was too late; he had already submitted the design before passing out the night before.
If I tell myself this story long enough, I can begin to comprehend how one person might think this was an OK idea. Of course, that still leaves me with two burning questions; how on earth did so many people sign off on this design ? And how did the Sabres manage to avoid being sued for blatant copyright infringement?